SINGAPORE writers are pulling out of activities involving the National Library Board (NLB) to protest against the removal of three children's books from public libraries.
On Friday, writers Gwee Li Sui, Adrian Tan, Prem Anand and Felix Cheong cancelled their panel Humour Is Serious Business, supposed to be held tomorrow at the Central Public Library as part of the Read! Singapore initiative.
Playwright and novelist Ovidia Yu also resigned from the steering committee of the Singapore Writers Festival.
NLB is a partner of the annual literary festival, to be held from Oct 31 to Nov 9.
Dr Gwee, 43, will also not be a keynote speaker at the National Schools Literature Festival today, for which NLB is a partner.
All the writers are against NLB's decision to remove three books slammed by some readers for homosexual content.
"NLB asked us to talk about humour. But we didn't find it amusing at all that NLB would spend Read!
Singapore, our national reading month, preventing Singaporeans from reading books," said novelist and lawyer Tan, 48.
NLB said the books were removed after readers' complaints echoed librarians' concerns over the content.
The books include The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption, featuring a lesbian couple among others; Who's In My Family?: All About Our Families, which features various family structures; and a book which the American Library Association says is regularly challenged by readers: And Tango Makes Three, based on the true story of two male penguins which hatched an egg in a New York zoo.
Writers are upset that these books will be pulped, rather than resold or offered to homes.